Family of Brain Injured Infant Recovers $6.8 Million as Mother Not Advised of Risks of Having Vaginal Birth after Previous Caesarean Section

A 30-year-old mother from Woodbridge, Ontario, was never advised of the risks of undergoing a Vaginal Birth After Caesarean Section (“VBAC”). Mom gave birth to an infant who sustained brain damage shortly before birth, which was caused by a ruptured uterus. The family recovered $6.8 million from the negligent defendants from Toronto, Ontario.

One of the risk factors (or complications) associated with a VBAC is uterine rupture (which can lead to severe fetal compromise or death). Mom was not advised of the risk of having a VBAC. This, in combination with the nurses’ negligent administration of a drug called Oxytocin which was used to induce Mom, caused her uterus to rupture, leading to the infant’s brain damage. In addition, Mom was not advised of the risk of being induced with Oxytocin in the context of a VBAC. In both instances, Mom was deprived of her “Informed Consent”.

The initial dose of Oxytocin and the periodic increases of the drug were excessive. When mom was admitted, the Oxytocin was immediately ordered. Approximately 5 hours after being admitted for induction, the nurses noted twice that the contractions were tripling and shortly after this time, there were 7 contractions within 10 minutes (hyperstimulation of the uterus). The combination of high doses of Oxytocin and frequent augmentation caused this hyperstimulation. The attending nurse disregarded the abnormal uterine activity and failed to discontinue the Oxytocin.

Approximately 20 minutes after the contractions began to triple, the baby developed a condition called bradycardia (low fetal heart rate), indicating that the baby was in serious distress at this point. Considering that Mom had a previous uterine scar and was receiving Oxytocin, the baby should have been delivered immediately (as bradycardia is the best indicator of uterine rupture), but instead it took almost 20 minutes to even get to the operating room. During this time, the fetal heart rate abnormalities persisted until the baby was delivered. This delay contributed to the brain damage suffered by the baby. A code pink should have been called right away and the mother should have been operated on much sooner.

Due to the uterine rupture, the baby’s brain suffered an intrapartum hypoxic-ischemic insult (brain damage caused by a lack of oxygen and blood flow to the baby’s brain before birth). The baby subsequently developed severe neurological abnormalities.

Sommers Roth & Elmaleh Professional Corporation has over 40 years of experience in medical malpractice litigation in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA), Ontario, and across Canada.

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The above information is not legal advice. Past results of cases and recoveries by our medical malpractice lawyers against hospitals, doctors, midwives, nurses and other healthcare professionals are not necessarily indicative of future results. The amounts recovered and other litigation outcomes will vary according to the facts in individual cases.